“To live happily is an inward power of the soul.” ~Marcus Aurelius
I found this quote today and it really got to me. There are too many times when I find my happiness tangled up in things outside my control. Other people in my life seem to struggle with this too. They will become upset with me because I did not react the way they wanted me to. In those situations, I tell myself that they are crazy for pinning their happiness on me and whether or not I disappoint them. What I fail to see in those moments of criticizing others for their bad attitude is how frequently I employ that ridiculously self-defeating thought process myself.
For the past two weeks I have been working to retrain myself or at least to gain back some of the control over happiness in my life. When my attitude goes downhill, I stop to look at the situation again for a positive. If I can’t find one in that particular situation, then I go outside of it and look at my life as a whole because I know that on the whole my life has more reasons to be grateful than to be grumpy. This morning we’d planned to go on a long ride with friends because the weather was supposed to be perfect…unseasonably warm and sunny. At 8:30 a.m., however, as we were getting ready to leave it was still 43 degrees outside and overcast. I hate to ride in the cold and was annoyed about the change in the forecast. Exactly who told Mother Nature she could screw with my weather for ride day? Instead of being cranky about it, though, I decided that even without perfect weather there were plenty of reasons to be happy about this ride: great people to ride with, the freedom to leave our kids for a few hours and get out, the beautiful lack of snow, health that allows me to ride 36 miles without pain, and the fitness to get up a short but steep 10% incline without much suffering.
It’s easy to be negative. The world around us provides ample amounts of bad news. It takes real determination to be happy and to live with gratitude. Happiness is always a choice. If things don’t look right to me from one point of view, I jockey myself around until things look a little better. Sometimes all you need for a an attitude adjustment is a little wiggle room.